Neuroethics: Fostering Collaborations to Enable Neuroscientific Discovery

AJOB Neurosci. Jul-Sep 2020;11(3):148-154. doi: 10.1080/21507740.2020.1778117.


The NIH-funded Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative has led to significant advances in what we know about the functions and capacities of the brain. This multifaceted and expansive effort supports a range of experimentation from cells to circuits, and its outputs promise to ease suffering from various neurological injuries, diseases, and neuropsychiatric conditions. At the midway point of the 10-year BRAIN Initiative, we pause to consider how these studies, and neuroscience research more broadly, may bear on human characteristics and moral concepts such as identity, agency, and others. This midway point also offers us an opportunity to evaluate the sociology and impacts of BRAIN Initiative-funded investigations to ensure that ethical standards of fairness and justice pervade the scientific process itself. Neuroethics inquiry provides a mechanism to invite relevant, novel expertise from the wide array of disciplines that intersect with biomedicine in neuroscience research. As the BRAIN Initiative and the broader field of neuroscience proceed, neuroethics serves as a central component of neuroscience inquiry to i) foster necessary and beneficial collaborations for responsible discovery; ii) ensure a rigorous, reproducible, and representative neuroscience research process; and iii) explore the unique nature of study of the human brain through accurate and representative models of its function and dysfunction.

Keywords: Brain; Neuroethics; neuroscience; neurotechnology.

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Human Characteristics
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations
  • Morals
  • Neurosciences*